YouTube’s head of gaming, Ryan Wyatt, announced today that he’s leaving YouTube and Google for blockchain company Polygon Studios. February will be Wyatt’s last month at YouTube.
“I will miss YouTube dearly, but it is time for me to pursue other endeavors in life and where my passions are taking me,” Wyatt wrote in a farewell statement posted to Twitter. “I am fascinated by blockchain app development and am beyond thrilled to enter the web3 space.”
Wyatt was at YouTube for over seven years, and oversaw its push into game streaming and the high-profile poaching of Twitch streamers such as Valkyrae, DrLupo, and TimTheTatman. In a Washington Post article published last year (which I saw today after its author pointed to it on Twitter), Wyatt, who was an esports commentator himself, emphasized the importance of work-life balance for contracted streamers.
“I think stream grind is a real thing,” Wyatt said at the time. “I think stream burnout is a real thing. I am not trying to bring people over here to stream 150 to 200 hours a month. I don’t think that’s healthy. It’s not what we’re trying to create at YouTube.”
The company Wyatt is joining is called Polygon, but is not related to the gaming website of the same name—a confusing choice, especially since its purple logo is somewhat similar. Polygon calls itself “Ethereum’s Internet of Blockchains,” and makes an open source protocol and framework meant to help developers build, secure, and scale Ethereum-compatible blockchain networks. The gist for lay observers, according to Polygon, is that the Ethereum blockchain is a popular but problematic way to transact cryptocurrency and NFTs, and Polygon makes it easier for blockchain developers to interface with it securely.
It is bittersweet news to share that I am leaving @YouTube. I have loved every minute of my time here, but it is time for my next endeavor. I am elated to announce that I will be joining @0xPolygon ($MATIC) as their CEO of Polygon Studios. Thank you for the memories! ❤️ pic.twitter.com/VhQxpqDbFOJanuary 25, 2022
Wyatt will lead a part of the company called Polygon Studios, which he says involves “gaming, entertainment, fashion, news, sports, and more.” The Polygon Studios website is a placeholder, but the Studios section of the company’s blog reveals what it’s focused on: ‘play-to-earn’ game concepts and NFT projects, mainly. Polygon partnered with Atari for an NFT project, for example, and last October, it partnered with fantasy sports contest and betting app DraftKings “to accelerate the adoption of NFTs and Web3.”
We recently took a look at the year ahead in NFT gaming projects, and while there’s a lot of talk about decentralization, “the metaverse,” cryptocurrency, and NFTs, most major game publishers haven’t announced any concrete blockchain entanglements at this time. What currently exists in the space looks more or less like a catalogue of failed 2013 Kickstarter projects, but here’s yet another major figure plunging into the business—what will come of it is anyone’s guess.
In related news, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki said today that the site is interested in “expanding the YouTube ecosystem to help creators capitalize on emerging technologies, including things like NFTs.”